Criminals and Legends: An Evening Walk in the City of London
- Dark secrets revealed: Encounter a remnant of infamous Newgate Gaol's wall, cramped prison cells hidden under a historic pub, the haunted Bank of England headquarters, and Smithfield meat market – site of many a gruesome execution.
- Chilling stories told: Hear tales of the Grey Lady who plagues St. Bartholomew's Hospital, the cruel exploits of Jack the Ripper, the persecution and burning of Protestant "heretics" by order of the queen known as "Bloody Mary", and more.
- Viaduct Tavern: Visit the last remaining Victorian gin joint in the City of London, standing opposite the Old Bailey and cloaked in splendid period decor.
- Small group = more personal: Groups are limited to no more than 20, for a relaxed and intimate experience with deeper guide interaction and audio headsets to help you hear it all.
About This London Tour
It's the oldest part of Merry Olde London – the part that grew up around the isolated Thames River outpost the ancient Romans named Londinium. By day it's where London does business, but at night it evokes a far darker past. Steeped in history and myth, the hidden alleys and ancient buildings of the City of London hold a wealth of creepy secrets – harking back to a time when this was the place where graves were robbed, witches and rebels were tried and executed, and thieves and murderers pursued their deadly errands. As your expert guide will be happy to tell you, they left many a ghastly story behind.
Smithfield, London's only medieval meat market still in operation, is a perfect example. This handsome 1860s brick-and-plaster building looks innocent enough. But it sits on what was once a pasture outside the old Roman walls: a place known as Smooth Field, where livestock was traded as far back as 1,000 years ago.
Thing is, cows and sheep weren't the only ones who met their end here; for centuries, this was also where humans were dispatched via public execution. Like in 1305, when Scottish patriot William Wallace – aka Braveheart– was hanged, drawn and quartered here. (We'll spare you the rest of the gory details, although your guide probably won't). The slaying business thrived at Smithfield well into the 16th century, with Henry VIII murdering Catholics and his daughter "Bloody Mary" burning Protestants.
The neighborhood wasn't much friendlier to those who ran afoul of the law in later centuries, either. Offenders were locked up in Newgate Gaol (that's Old English for slammer), which stood for 800 years conveniently next to the Central Criminal Court Building along Old Bailey Street. If convicted, it was into a cart and off to the gallows near Hyde Park to hang. By the turn of the 19th century, they didn't bother with carting anymore, opting to do the hanging right at Newgate – with the ever-curious public watching.
Those who missed these live death spectacles could read about them in the press and popular fiction. Even Charles Dickens penned his share of "Newgate novels."
By the way, his ghost is said to still haunt the City. But that's another Merry story.
Henry 8, Mary 1
Callously rejected by her father, Queen Mary I ascended the throne in 1553 and made it her mission to reverse Henry VIII's break with the Catholic Church. But she was not gentle about it, waging a holy war that saw nearly 300 Protestants burned at the stake for heresy. Desperate to produce an heir who would continue her policies, she died just five years into her reign – childless, unpopular, miserable in her marriage, and with a nickname we still toast today: Bloody Mary.
Please make your way to the Bank Tube Station Exit 3, by the statue of of the Duke of Wellington to meet your expert guide.
Your tour ends at the Viaduct Tavern around 21:00. It is the responsibility of all visitors to be at the meeting point 15 minutes before departure. Guests arriving after departure cannot be accommodated, and missed tours or tickets cannot be refunded.
This tour involves a moderate amount of walking. It is not wheelchair accessible. Travelers with limited mobility may not see all sites fully but can participate at their discretion.
Walking Tour, Family Friendly, Cultural, Night Life
Evening Walking Tour
Visit Viaduct Tavern
Tour Participation Requirements
This experience is rated mild. To participate fully, you may be required to walk over primarily even surfaces at a leisurely pace. You may encounter a limited number of steps, cobblestones, or uneven surfaces, and you may have to stand for extended periods of time.
Suitable for all ages.
Special Medical Restriction
Participants must be in good health, disclose their physical fitness and advise any conditions that might impact their participation in the tour.
Full refunds issued for cancellations made 7 full days prior to the date and time of requested services. Cancellations made within the 7-day and 72-hour window will receive a 50% refund of purchase total. Purchases are non-refundable inside of 72 hours.
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